The analyst community has been abuzz about context-aware computing -- delivering customized, engaging online experiences that take into account user context such as gender, location, time of day/year, weather, social media “likes” and updates. In fact, a recent Gartner report stated that “Context-aware computing -- the concept of leveraging information about the end user to improve the quality of the interaction -- can improve business results.”

We wanted to gauge if companies are actually providing this type of experience to its users, so we conducted an independent survey of over 1,100 German and U.S. Internet users to get some insight into consumer satisfaction with their digital experience across several key areas, including website personalization and mobile website usage. The survey found that companies are failing to meet expectations for the majority of consumers. More than half of the survey participants (56 percent) indicated that they do not feel as though website content is tailored to their personal needs or preferences.

Survey: Mobile Access isn't Great

The survey also explored mobile Web sentiment. With smartphone adoption accelerating in both the U.S. and Europe (27 percent and 31 percent of mobile subscribers, respectively, in 2010 ), analysts are recommending companies focus on creating a seamless experience in terms of how they engage with their customers across all channels. Over a third (36 percent) of those surveyed, however, felt most sites are often difficult to read on a mobile device, and 40 percent said they do not regularly access mobile sites because it is too complicated.

Another interesting finding relates to expectations regarding mobile when compared to traditional desktop browsing: 24 percent felt that most mobile sites are missing the functionality that one finds on websites when accessed via a PC. This supports the theory that rather than the more immersive Web experience one expects when using a desktop, people use mobile devices for specific goals -- quick searches, social media updates or transactions, etc. Despite the increasing trends in mobile usage and the understanding of the different intentions associated with mobile web access, it appears companies still have a bit more work to do on delivering an engaging user experience across all channels.

Market Perceptions

Gartner offers an explanation behind this disconnect, reporting “Despite some of the benefits, there is a perception in the market that the level of understanding required to deliver an appropriate user experience across multiple channels of interaction remains elusively difficult or prohibitively expensive to achieve.” When it comes to implementing contextualized Web or mobile services, organizations often tend to look to technology alone.